Enemies with benefits?

Why don’t people just forgive?

Paul Tripp responds:

That is a very good question. If forgiveness is easier and more beneficial, why isn’t it more popular? The sad reality is that there is short-term, relationally destructive power in refusing to forgive. Holding onto the other’s wrongs gives us the upper hand in our relationship. We keep a record of wrongs because we are not motivated by what honors God and is best for others but by what is expedient for ourselves.

Tripp then offers Five Dark “Benefits” of Unforgiveness, on why we choose unforgiveness in our relationships:

  1. Debt is power.
  2. Debt is identity.
  3. Debt is entitlement.
  4. Debt is weaponry.
  5. Debt puts us in God’s position.

(Read the full post for descriptions of each point.)

Tripp continues:

The Ugly Lifestyle of Selfishness

This is nasty stuff. It is a relational lifestyle driven by ugly selfishness. It is motivated by what we want, what we think we need, and by what we feel. It has nothing to do with a desire to please God with the way we live with one another, and it surely has nothing to do with what it means to love others in the midst of their struggle to live God’s way in this broken world.

It’s also scarily blind. We are so focused on the failures of others that we are blind to ourselves. We forget how often we fail, how much sin mars everything we do, and how desperately we need the grace that we are daily given but unwilling to offer to others. This way of living turns the people in our lives into our adversaries and turns the locations where we live into a war zone.

Yet, we have all been seduced by the power of unforgiveness. We have all used the sin of another against him or her. We have all acted as judges. We have all thought we are more righteous than the people around us. We have all used the power of guilt to get what we want when we want it and in so doing have not only done serious damage to the fine china of our relationships, but have demonstrated how much we need forgiveness.

Forgiveness Is a Much Better Way

It seems almost too obvious to say, but forgiveness is a much better way. The grace of our salvation is the ultimate argument for this truth. Forgiveness is the only way to live in an intimate, long-term relationship with another sinner. Forgiveness is the only way to negotiate through the weakness and failure that will daily mark your relationships. It is the only way to deal with hurt and disappointment. Forgiveness is the only way to have hope and confidence restored. It is the only way to protect your love and reinforce the unity that you have built. Forgiveness is the only way not to be kidnapped by the past. It is the only way to give your relationships the blessing of fresh starts and new beginnings.

Grace, forgiving grace, really is a much, much better way. So, isn’t wonderful to know that you have not only been called to forgive, but you have also been graced with everything you need to answer this call.

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” —Ephesians 4:32
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